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Mayan - "Quarterpast" (CD)

Mayan - "Quarterpast" CD cover image

"Quarterpast" track listing:

1. Symphony Of Aggression (7:49)
2. Mainstay Of Society (In The Eyes Of The Law: Corruption) (5:25)
3. Quarterpast (1:35)
4. Course Of Life (6:10)
5. The Savage Massacre (In The Eyes Of Law: Pizzo) (5:28)
6. Essenza Di Te (2:06)
7. Bite The Bullet (5:19)
8. Drown The Demon (5:00)
9. Celibate Aphrodite (7:20)
10. War On Terror (In The Eyes Of The Law: Pentagon Papers) (4:25)
11. Tithe (0:52)
12. Sinner's Last Retreat (Deed Of Awakening) (7:39)

Reviewed by on July 11, 2011

"At times the album almost seems on the verge of exploding with all the chaos, but somehow these musicians keep it all together just tightly enough to keep working. It was a gamble, and it hugely paid off."

Part super group, part side project, Mayan has an all-star cast featuring members of acts such as Epica, After Forever, and even Obscura. Straight the point, the cover artwork for the group’s debut album “Quarterpast” tells exactly what to expect: “symphonic death metal opera.” For once all the unnecessary sub-genre defining has worked out perfectly, because the album is a frantic explosion of everything the title would suggest.

So what exactly is “symphonic death metal opera?” Is it brutal symphonic death metal? Black metal? Power metal? Gothic metal? Yes, it is all of that, and then some. Much more than the studio clips and press releases would have revealed, “Quarterpast” is a relentlessly heavy album. Mayan may be the brainchild of Epica’s Mark Jansen, but the band’s first release is far more aggressive and death metal oriented than anything Epica has ever done.

The number of influences found not only on the album, but even on any given song, is just absolutely staggering. Moods shift constantly, and pretty much any style that’s ever had the word “metal” added to the end shows up at some point. Gothic female vocals are present, albeit only infrequently. High pitched power metal singing gets tossed around, and growls of just about every variety land in the pile as well. At times the album almost seems on the verge of exploding with all the chaos, but somehow these musicians keep it all together just tightly enough to keep working. It was a gamble, and it hugely paid off.

Attempting to describe any one song in great detail is probably pointless, as there’s just too much going on. Brutal heaviness and insane drumming will be followed up by a proggy and spacey guitar segment, which then turns into a highly technical and clinical section, and then the music gets taken over by symphonic sounds and keyboard-heavy elements. Although Mayan doesn’t precisely sound like Septicflesh, it has a lot of the same epic symphonic qualities expressed by that particular band.

Although the instrumentation and chaotic juxtaposition of sounds is phenomenal, there are a couple of minor problems that “Quarterpast” could have done without. The main issue is the appearance of voiceovers on a few tracks, which are more silly than scary, although they do have a bit of a nostalgic ‘90s style charm. The only other issue is the inclusion of the interlude track “Essenza Di Te,” which is entirely opera singing and stringed instruments. While it sounds great, it breaks up the flow and isn’t in the same spirit as the rest of the surrounding music.

“Quarterpast” is a massive experiment letting people get outside their comfort zones and go in new directions while mixing many different musical ideas together. The end result is an hour of hectic and insane death metal that’s well worth the effort. With any luck, Mayan won’t get cast to the wayside and this debut is just the first of many offerings to come.

Highs: Chaotic explosion of every type of metal ever conceived held together by sheer brutality

Lows: The voiceovers come off a bit cheesy.

Bottom line: A melting pot of pure metal awesomeness.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)